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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Coming off of a hard-fought 3-2 first-round victory over No. 16 seed Winchester on March 3 and after being forced to wait two days for a makeup game that was supposed to occur last Wednesday, the No. 1 seed Wellesley High School girls varsity hockey team took to the ice against No. 9 Norwell in the Division II quarterfinals on Friday evening.
Thanks to a late offensive surge, highlighted by a pair of goals from senior forward Katie Hawkinson, as well as two goals by sophomore forward Emily Rourke, the Raiders (17-2-3) pulled away from the Clippers for a convincing 6-1 victory.
Despite the puck being worked around by the Raiders in the Norwell end for the majority of the first period, the game remained scoreless with just over a minute to play in the opening frame. However, with 40 seconds remaining, Rourke tipped home a shot from the high slot by sophomore forward Mackenzie O’Neil to give Wellesley a 1-0 lead. Just 20 second later with 20.6 seconds to play in the period, senior captain and forward Phoebe Lawrence shot a backhander home via the five-hole on a three-one-two to double Wellesley’s lead to 2-0 at the first intermission.
The Raiders continued to dominate play throughout the second period as the Raiders set up camp in the Norwell end with their relentless cycling attack. A backhanded breakaway bid by Lawrence was turned aside by Norwell goaltender Chloe Hohmann just 40 seconds in to keep Wellesley’s lead at two. Norwell seized some momentum off the big save and cut the deficit in half at 2-1 on the power play at 4:42 of the period. Wellesley picked up its intensity after surrendering the shorthanded goal and received a pair of power-play opportunities to try and bolster their lead. However, a pair of hit posts, one by Lawrence and the other by Rourke, kept the lead at just 2-1 for Wellesley at the second intermission.
Leading by a goal entering the third period in what had been a bit of a frustrating game in terms of capitalizing on scoring chances, Wellesley needed to have a strong third period in order to take care of business and advance.
The Raiders did that and then some.
Hawkinson extended Wellesley’s lead to 3-1 just 1:30 into the third period by banging home a rebound after following her initial shot to the net and stuffing the puck under the pad of Hohmann. Five minutes later with 8:38 to play, Bliss Vernon pushed Wellesley’s lead to three goals after burying a rebound following a stuffed breakaway bid by Lawrence. Hawkinson added another tally on the power-play to put the nail in the coffin at 5-1 with just under five minutes remaining, and the Raiders added a sixth insurance goal, thanks to Rourke in the game’s final moments, to prevail by the 6-1 final.
Wellesley sophomore goaltender Elizabeth Schulz finished the game with 17 saves.
At the time of print, the Lady-Raiders will take on No. 13 Algonquin in the semifinals at Warrior Arena in Brighton on March 12 for a spot in the Division II state championship game at TD Garden.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.